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Donald Sterling may let Shelly sell the Clippers after all

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Donald Sterling actually wasn't overshadowing the NBA playoffs for a few days. But on May 23 -- an off day for NBA playoff action -- Sterling stole the headlines from under the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder again. However, it might just be for the right reasons this time, as ESPN alleged that Sterling will allow the Los Angeles Clippers to be sold from him after all, with his wife Shelly to handle negotiations.

Sources "with knowledge of the situation" told ESPN LA's Ramona Shelburne that Sterling plans to transfer his stake in the Clippers to his wife, who will then negotiate a sale. She would have to give up total control to new ownership for the NBA to accept Sterling's proposal -- but if she does, then the Clippers and the league could finally move on in a timely manner.

With Sterling's history of protracted legal battles and settlements, the fear was that he would give up the Clippers only after dragging it out for months, if not years. Such maneuvers would put the team in limbo, leaving Los Angeles in control of the Sterlings in the meantime. Current players and coaches, not to mention potential free agents, might then reconsider being involved with the Clippers as long as Sterling had any stake in them, despite his banishment for life.

However, an anonymous source told USA TODAY Sports that Shelly Sterling would only sell if she "retains a minority interest" in the franchise. If that is true, and if the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver wouldn't settle for any Sterling having any interest in the team, the proposal might well fall apart after all.

In that case, the NBA would likely go ahead with a special hearing on June 3, in which owners would meet and vote on whether to force a sale of the Clippers themselves. If the vote goes against Sterling and he is still willing to fight the league by then, the offseason may then become Clippers and Sterling-centric like the first half of the NBA playoffs were.

But on this off day for the four remaining postseason teams, the last club to be eliminated from the second round might have finally turned a corner. Still, too much has happened for the league and the Clippers to breathe a sigh of relief just yet.

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